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Seattle Exodus - Thousands Are Leaving Seattle for Spokane and Boise

Seattle's housing market is hot as ever -- but some long time residents are moving out. Here's where they're going.

Stateside Movers - Nationwide Moving Company
By Adeline Jazinski, Copyright © 2022,

Why are so many moving away from Seattle? For years, people have moved to Seattle from all over the country, and many still do. Thousands of people, especially Millennials, move to the city every year. But migration patterns have started to shift in recent years, with thousands of Seattle residents, including Millennials, moving out of the city.

There are several reasons why people are leaving Seattle, but they all point to one root cause: quality of life. Some residents find that city living isn't all they thought it would be, or realize that they simply can't afford the lifestyle they want in Seattle. With its expensive housing market, dense population, and miserable traffic, Seattle doesn't offer the kind of life many people dream of. As they look for a better quality of life, many people are moving to other areas of the Pacific Northwest.

Why Leave Seattle?

As we mentioned above, there are a few key reasons people move out of Seattle. Here are more details on the drawbacks to Seattle living:

Seattle's Traffic: Seattle has some of the worst traffic in the country. A 2018 study from INRIX Research ranked Seattle as #6 in the top ten worst cities for traffic. Only Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles are worse. On average, Seattle drivers spend about 138 hours a year behind the wheel.

Seattle's High-Priced Housing market: Seattle is notorious for its expensive housing market. The state of Washington ranks as the sixth-worst in the country for monthly rent. The median home price in King County is $657,000, well out of the range of many potential buyers.

Seattle's Population Density is High: As more people move to Seattle, it's only natural that the population density has increased over time to its current level of just over 8,000 people per square mile. It is still less crowded than NYC or Boston but is much denser than other American cities like Houston and Phoenix.

Just as many residents are moving away, many businesses are relocating away from Seattle or establishing branches outside of the city. Seattle's expensive housing market is matched by expensive commercial rent. Businesses may find that they can operate less expensively in other cities. A more affordable lifestyle can also lure good employees who feel priced out of Seattle.

Where People Are Heading to from Seattle

When people move on from Seattle, many opt to stay in the northwest. Popular destinations include other parts of Washington and nearby states such as Oregon and California. Increasingly, Seattle residents are moving to Spokane, WA and other places like Boise. In fact Spokane / the Spokane region is now one of the top five destinations for people moving out of Seattle with input coming directly from Spokane Moving: Spokane's Best Movers, a five star rated Spokane moving company serving that moves clients locally and nationwide.

Compared to Seattle, Spokane has a lot to offer potential residents. Its housing market is much more affordable. The median home price of $247,000, less than half the median price in Seattle. The average commute time is just 20 minutes by car, though many residents choose to walk, bike, or take the bus. The slower pace and affordability lure many Seattle residents to Spokane.

Spokane, WA & Coeur d'Alene, ID -- Part of the Same Geographical Market

As people research Spokane and what it's draws are, they discover that it is surrounded by beautiful terrain and there are four major ski resorts in the region including world class Schweitzer Mountain in the resort city of Sandpoint, Idaho. North Idaho itself is only 20 minutes drive from Spokane. Coeur d'Alene, just across the border, is a world known city, drawing people from across the globe every year as tourists. Many wealthy and sometimes famous people have moved to the area as well or just have second homes, sometimes right on the lakeshore or in the Coeur d'Alene highlands. From baby boomers to millenials, the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene region is drawing people from all over.

Why Spokane Draws Businesses, Some from Seattle

For businesses, Spokane is also an attractive prospect. Its commercial rent, which averages $23 per square foot, is much lower than the Seattle area average of $65 per square foot. This price reduction is a real perk for start-ups that can stretch their initial funding much farther in Spokane. The airport here offers 17 direct flights each day, making it easy to travel to bigger cities for important meetings.

New Businesses in Spokane

The city of Spokane is actively recruiting new businesses to the area. Spokane Mayor David Condon has been traveling to other areas, pitching the city to many businesses. He hopes to develop Spokane's finance, healthcare, insurance, and manufacturing industries.

So far, Condon's efforts seem to be working. The Information Technology sector in Spokane has seen growth, with 500 new jobs created in 2018 and a total of 98 IT employers in the city. Amazon recently built a fulfillment center here that created 1,500 jobs., a Seattle-based pet care company, opened an office with 75 employees in Spokane. Mullen Technologies, an electric car company, plans to manufacture cars here in near future.

Condon continues to recruit new businesses to Spokane, specifically working to create jobs offering salaries in the range of $60,000 to $125,000. He highlights the five universities in the area as a selling point for businesses that need an educated workforce.

Beyond Spokane

While Spokane itself has plenty to offer, some newcomers look to the surrounding areas when choosing where to settle. Spokane is surrounded by beautiful countryside, mountains, and forests. Several national forests, including Coeur d'Alene, Saint Joe, Kaniksu, and Colville National Forests, are located within driving distance of the city.

The country setting around Spokane is ideal for anyone who loves the outdoors. Hiking, biking, skiing, and snowboarding, are just a few of the many ways to take in the rugged scenery in this area.

With its affordable, pleasant lifestyle coupled with its business-friendly environment, Spokane is a great destination for both residents and businesses. Not sure what to think? Go see for yourself why so many people are headed that direction.
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